The French F4 leader is juggling his first junior single-seater campaign with karting, and progressing faster than anticipated in cars after a breakout 2022 that put his name in the spotlight. Ida Wood finds out more
Although karting has a large and passionate fanbase, the results of even the CIK-FIA World Championship rarely make headlines in the wider motorsport press let alone outside of it. But there was an exception last year when the European championship finale was rocked by a title-deciding team orders decision.
It involved a factory team influencing a customer team to move one of its drivers out of the way with two laps to go in the final so a few extra points could be scored and the destination of the title could change.
Mercedes-AMG Formula 1 junior Alex Powell won the race and was on course to be champion until his Alpine-backed Kart Republic team-mate Kean Nakamura Berta was let by into second place and so moved ahead of him in the standings. The one who gave up their position, in incredibly high pressure circumstances for such a young driver, was Evan Giltaire.
It could’ve been easy for Giltaire to be knocked down by a decision that showed no regard to his own battle for championship position, and he was in a situation where accepting or denying the order could be costly for his career prospects.
But he bounced back from that weekend in fine style, winning a round of the French Karting Championship, finishing 14th in the World championship, winning the IAME Warriors Final, coming third in the WSK Final Cup and capping it all off by moving into the factory Kart Republic fold himself and winning the USA’s SuperNationals event.
In fact Kart Republic wanted Giltaire’s services for 2023, but he already had his eyes on stepping up into single-seater racing and so he ended up committing to a season in French Formula 4 and a variety of karting events across Europe.
This year started strongly by making the podium in the IAME Winter Cup and the IAME Series France season opener, then the preparations for F4 took priority ahead of his race debut in April.
It paid off as his season began at Nogaro with the fastest time in practice, then two poles in qualifying and victory in his very first car race. He went from 10th to fourth in the reversed-grid that followed and then finished second in race three.
Round two at Magny-Cours followed a similar pattern, with a double pole, race one victory and fourth in race two. Pole could have been converted into victory in race three but he collided with Enzo Peugeot while they were vying for the win and he got a 30-second penalty that dropped him from first to 18th.
There was lots to learn in round three, as Giltaire got his first taste of a street circuit in Pau. Due to Euroformula pulling out of the event, it also meant Giltaire could add a grand prix start to his CV in just his ninth race in cars.
Formula Scout caught up with Giltaire after the first race of the weekend, with Sunday’s grand prix still to come. The first point of discussion was why the 16-year-old choe to race on karts this year while trying to adapt to cars at the same time.
“Doing F4 was the initial plan for sure. The karting is just a plus. So I will do only the two last rounds of the IAME Euro Series in X30 Senior [concluding in August], and then concentrate on F4 because it’s the biggest programme and the goal is to go forward in single-seaters.”
Giltaire is unbothered that “everyone has a coach personally, but I have nobody”, as the structure of the centrally-run French F4 championship means experience and assistance is shared around. In fact, the engineer of Giltaire’s car in Pau was also the engineer of four others, and “I have learned a lot with all the engineers I’ve had at Nogaro, Magny-Cours and here”.
So, with the support of the FFSA Academy’s engineers, how has he found the transition to single-seaters?
“I really like it because in karting you don’t do a lot of things outside the kart. You’re driving, and then when you go out you do [basically] nothing. But in the F4, you’re driving and then one hour after you’re still working on the computer with the engineer.
“It’s what I like, to work after to get better and better. Everyone has a lot of days of practice in F4, like 20, 30, or someone does F4 United Arab Emirates, and I did only six days of F4 testing before the championship. But I think of what I did to progress a lot, it’s to work at home, to work with your engineer, and I really like that.”
The breakdown of those six test days were “five days with the FFSA, one private last year before the Richard Mille, and then the Richard Mille Young Talent Academy shootout” of which “I count the Richard Mille in the six, so normally it’s five”.
French F4 was the only series in consideration for Giltaire, despite testing elsewhere in 2022 and even last week topping an Italian F4 test at Monza. So why stick to his domestic series?
“Budget, first, and we can’t drive on other tracks. We can only drive on these ones. Even if you drive in another championships, the points where you drive [in both series] like Paul Ricard or Spa-Francorchamps, you miss points here. But the biggest reason is for the budget.”
At the time of the interview Giltaire did not know if testing the cars of other series, knowing he would not be racing in them this year, would be an option. His Italian F4 test proved that such mileage is an active possibility, and Giltaire had said “I have a lot of propositions, but for the moment we stay focused on the F4 and then we will see what’s there”.
Talking of propositions, and his lack of coaches, had any Formula 1 junior teams been in contact?
“I’m still waiting for a [invitation] or something, like Alpine, Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, I’m open to everyone. I’m just waiting for the first one to come to me.”
One major name that Giltaire has already attracted the support of in sponsorship form is fast food chain McDonald’s.
There are three more rounds left of the French F4 season, and Giltaire is firmly in title contention even though he is also firmly still in learning mode.
“For the moment, I’m not quite a good driver to know what’s right with the car,” he admitted. “So I’m still working on that with the engineer. I always tell him to tell me what he does on the car, to know what’s happened with the car. Still working on that, and I learn a lot, so we will see what happens if I’m going to Formula Regional Europe or Formula 3 [next] or something. In a private team [unlike French F4], it will be different surely.”
There are no centrally-run series above French F4, meaning the competitivity of the teams Giltaire ends up with in the future will influence what kind of positions he will fight for on track. And the step up to a higher category had been eyed for 2025.
“I’m happy about what I did in first year [so far], and I’m still progressing. I’m working every race, every session, and I’m progressing and progressing.
“I started the season like [I’d then go] for a second year. A year to learn and a year to win. But for the moment it looks like it’s going to be only year,” he laughed. “And then something else! With the results I have, maybe we will change faster than what we think.”
Mixed conditions made the Pau weekend even more of a challenge. Practice and qualifying were split into two groups, and Giltaire topped his group in both sessions. He was 5.196 seconds off the pole-setting pace as his group faced a wetter track, but he still got to start on the front row for race one and the grand prix having been fastest by over a second in his group.
Giltaire led early on in race before being pursued and passed by Enzo Peugeot for the win. He was hit out of the reversed-grid race two on the opening lap, then faced the prospect of the grand prix being wet and dry in parts.
“I’m confident on both [conditions],” he said to Formula Scout beforehand, standing by some already worn tyres he was going to use for the race.
“Honestly, in the dry Enzo is a bit faster. A little bit, because he drove last year. But I’m still not too bad. Currently to the other guys, we put five tenths to everybody, so it’s not too bad.
“On the wet, like yesterday in qualifying, I put one second on everybody. So I will see what happens in the rain. I’m happy of course. I want to try wet now because I don’t have anymore driving [experience] in the wet, so I want to see what it feels like in the race with 26 cars.”
The grand prix began dry and Giltaire took the lead from Foster on lap three before a safety car period. Rain then led to the race being red-flagged, so drivers could switch to grooved tyres, and racing resumed on a soaked track on lap 11 of 16.
It was Peugeot who had the advantage, and he passed Giltaire for another win and the points lead in a race that was dramatic on and off-track.
Giltaire had the near perfect response in round four at Spa-Francorchamps by topping pre-event testing, free practice and qualifying, comfortably winning race one to reclaim the points lead, coming seventh in the reversed-grid encounter and then dominating race three. Next up on his schedule is a return to karting at the end of this month.
D/O/B November 21, 2006
2023: Currently 1st in French F4 (4 wins, 6 poles, 4 fastest laps)
2023 (all X30 Senior): 3rd in IAME Winter Cup, currently 13th in IAME Euro Series, currently 36th in IAME Series France
2022: French champion – X30 Snr, USA SuperNationals winner – X30 Snr, IAME Warriors Final winner – X30 Snr, 4th in IAME Euro Series – X30 Snr, 5th in CIK-FIA European Championship – OK, 6th in Champions of the Future – OK, 6th in WSK Final Cup – OK, 12th in IAME Winter Cup – X30 Snr, 14th in CIK-FIA World Championship – OK, 16th in Kartmasters British GP – X30 Snr
2021: 6th in CIK-FIA European Championship – OK, 17th in Champions of the Future – OK
2020: 13th in South Garda Winter Cup – OK Junior
2019: 17th in CIK-FIA European Championship – OK-J
2018: Rotax Max Challenge France winner – Cadet, French Cup winner – Cadet, 2nd in Le Mans 24 Minutes – OK, 7th in French championship – Cadet, 11th in Rotax Max Challenge Grand Finals – Rotax Mini